Spousal Maintenance Is Not Guaranteed in Divorce

maintenance, Aurora divorce attorneyIf nostalgic television programs are to be believed, the “model” American family looked very different several decades ago as compared to today. In many cases, one spouse—usually the husband—was the sole wage-earner while the other spouse—usually the wife—stayed home to manage the household and the children. While this scenario was not the reality in every family, it was common enough that if a marriage ended in divorce, most people presumed that the husband would be required to pay alimony to his wife so that she could continue meeting her day-to-day needs as well as those of the children.

Over the last few decades, there has been a dramatic shift in the family unit. Today, very few families can afford to survive on a single income, and the roles of each spouse may be defined to meet the particular family’s needs rather that adhering to strict social expectations. Such changes have also been reflected in Illinois laws regarding divorce, with a focus on making the process as equitable as possible. For this reason, alimony—also known as maintenance—is not guaranteed in a divorce proceeding, and will not be awarded unless the court determines that an actual need exists.

Factors to Consider

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that, absent an agreement between the spouses, the court must examine the circumstances of the family and each spouse. There are many considerations that the court will take into account including:

  • Each spouse’s income and property, including any property allocated during the divorce;
  • Each spouse’s needs;
  • Each spouse’s realistic ability to earn income, both now and in the future;
  • Any decrease in a spouse’s earning ability due to domestic duties or marital responsibilities;
  • The ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire education, training, and employment to be self-sufficient, and how long it will take;
  • The standard of living created during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Any contributions made by the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning capacity of the other spouse;
  • Each spouse’s age, health, and employability; and
  • Any other factor the court finds relevant.

If upon consideration of these factors, the court finds that maintenance is appropriate, the amount and duration of the support order must be calculated. In a future post, we will look more in-depth at how such orders are developed.

In the meantime, if you have questions about spousal maintenance in Illinois, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call [[phone]] for a confidential consultation at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. today. We will help you find the answers you need and work with you in protecting your rights.




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